Clean Eating vs Paleo Diet: What’s the Difference?

2The paleo diet (also called the caveman diet) has received a massive amount of attention over the past few years. There are tons of blogs and cookbooks dedicated to this way of eating.

Clean eating and the paleo diet have a lot in common but have a few key differences. Sometimes it can get confusing to explain the difference.

Check out my explanation of both ways of eating below. 


Yesterday we talked about what clean eating is and I promised that today we’d talk about the differences between clean eating and the paleo diet. 

The paleo diet is a form of clean eating but it is even more restrictive. It has been wildly popular, especially among athletes, for a few years. The basic idea is to only consume foods that would have been eaten by our ancestors in the Palaeolithic era.  (Great info about the diet here.)

I created this nifty little infographic to highlight the main differences:
Clean Eating vs Paleo Diet

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities between these two ways of eating. If you are doing clean eating or paleo, you avoid processed foods, refined grains and sugars, and alcohol. There is a focus on eating lots of fresh produce, whole foods and lean meats.

But, the difference with the paleo diet is that it also eliminates all grains, legumes and dairy products.

From my personal experience in eating paleo non-stop for 3 years and then transitioning to clean eating, I learned a few things:

  • Both ways of eating require a significant commitment and self-discipline.
  • Both can be tricky at restaurants- this is improving all the time though!
  • Both result in higher grocery bills as real ingredients often (ironically) cost more than packaged ones.
  • I eat more food with both because I’m not filling up on junk- but I ate even more on the paleo diet because of no grains. I sometimes found it hard to ever feel full.
  • I ignored the potential for nutritional deficiencies (such as calcium) with the paleo diet and ran into a few problems because of it. If I did it again, I’d get advice from a nutritionist.
  • I found it difficult to maintain a healthy weight on paleo- I was initially happy with losing excess weight but then found it difficult not to dip below my healthy weight. (Again- working with a nutritionist could have helped.)

I still lean heavily towards paleo but have opted to introduce some whole grains and some dairy (feta, yogurt, etc.) back into my diet. For me, this approach has worked well.

Everyone needs to eat the way that works best for them. Some find that cutting out grains completely (paleo approach) makes a huge difference. Both ways of eating have merits and have helped many meet their eating goals.

Have you tried paleo or clean eating? Are you still eating that way? I’d love to hear you weigh in on what worked/what didn’t. Fire away in the comment section below!

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